Jabra Sports Pulse Special Edition

The Jabra Sport Pulse Special Edition earbuds stand out as among the two or three best fitness headsets I've tested. When I look at sports earbuds the quality of the fit is as important as the quality of the sound.  Admittedly, this is a very subjective determination, and the shape and size of your ears may be different than mine, but mine are what I have to judge by!  

Putting it simply, these Jabras simply stay put for an entire workout.  The size of the tips plus the design of the wings that help anchor the device worked better than any I've tested, even when I was moving "hard" and really sweating. I like that they come with a limited three-year warranty for damage caused by sweat.

Now, fit comes with certain trade-offs.  These do tend to act as corks on your ear canal.  Some do not like this feeling, and for them I would recommend the Plantronic BackBeat Fit, at $89, which fit looser.  Tight fit tends to increase bass, a good thing, but isolates you from the world around you.  If you're on a treadmill or stationary bike, that doesn't matter much.  But, if you're running or biking in the real world, this sort of "passive noise cancellation" can be downright dangerous.  The Sport Pulse comes with two kinds of tips, silicon gels and comfy foam tips, the latter designed to let more sound in.  Still, any sound you put in your ear when in traffic can be dangerous to you and others around you.  That, of course, is a concern that is not unique to these headsets.

Sound quality is the next thing I look at (listen to?) when reviewing a headset.  The Jabra's are good.  They  are nowhere near as good as others available for home use, but they deliver adequate quality and didn't produce the excessive sound fatigue that marks poor sonic reproduction.  

The battery life is rated to five hours, more or less standard among this year's crop of Bluetooth earbuds.

Likewise, I don't focus on visual aesthetics in rating sports devices.  The Sports Pulse comes in basic black.  No attempt has been made to gussie them up as jewelry.  They aren't small.  They aren't pretty.  They stay in your ear.  They play music.  That's enough for me.

The Sport Pulse brings a very cool "extra" to the gym: a built in heart rate monitor.  This ties in directly to Jabra's fitness app and automatically into Apple Health as well.  The Jabra app can be used to test your resting heart rate and perform a VO2max test to determine your fitness level.  You can set a target pace and cadence and create your own interval training routine.

A couple of gripes.  Like all of the other Bluetooth earbuds I’ve looked at, they have no way of plugging into the TV audio jack that is ubiquitous on today's exercise equipment.  This means I'll still have to keep bringing my wired sets to the gym for the foreseeable future. Also, the charging port is under what looks to be a relatively flimsy sheath, instead of the rubberized caps found on many competitive designs.  It doesn’t' take much of an imagination to be concerned that this would be lost, ripped, or stretched through normal use over time.  None of these are deal breakers, though.